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December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chuckles Ju Jubes

Chuckles Ju JubesChuckles Ju Jubes are gumdrops in the same flavors as the classic Chuckles jelly candies.

They’re a pretty simple candy and also rather hard to find. I picked these up at the Dollar Tree, but I haven’t seen them anywhere else in the past five years or so.

Chuckles are now made by Farley’s & Sathers but they were the brainchild of Fred Amend back in the 1920s. He was the fellow who go the bright idea to do a sugar crust on gum drops to keep them from sticking together and retain their jelly softness. The company was sold to Nabisco in 1970. At first it was a great marriage. Nabisco wasn’t known as a candy company yet they’d acquired the number one jellied candy brand. They even sponsored Evel Knieval’s attempted jump over Snake River Canyon in 1974. But Nabisco was going through its own growing pains, as it was itself acquired and apparently forgot to manage the brand. Then in a strange turn in the 80s, several former Nabisco executives bought the Chuckles brand and jelly candy company and tried to bring it back to its former glory by moving into gummis as the trend emerged.

I’m having a bit of trouble tracking the history from there. I believe that Chuckles were sold in 1987 to Leaf (Huhtamaki Oy) and then Leaf was sold to Hershey’s in 1996. Farley’s & Sathers acquired it in 2002 along with other jelly candy brands like Heide Jujyfruits and JuJubes. 

Chuckles Ju Jubes

About 2/3” in diameter and a 1/2” high they’re a small bite of candy. Each is shaped the same, a six pointed berry. They’re really very similar to Jujyfruits except they lack the variety of shapes.

The flavor array is identical to the classic Chuckles: Licorice, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime.

The exterior is soft and dry - no sugary coating, no residual corn starch and no greasy mineral oil. The texture is very smooth, more like Dots than Jujyfruits. They’re soft and completely about the sweet and zest, not any tartness or tangy notes.

Licorice was a disappointment. It was mostly soapy and not much in the way or licorice or anise. Perhaps it got a little too much cherry near it. There’s also a bit of a menthol or minted note to it.

Cherry is quite bold. It reminded me of cherry LifeSavers, at least the smell of someone eating them nearby. Rather pleasant until the bitter Red40 aftertaste hit.

Orange is where things picked up. The citrus zest was strong, almost bitter but in an authentic way.

Lemon was also pretty zesty and fresh.

Lime was off the rails and into fragrance. I had a similar reaction to Chuckle’s green as well. It’s not the end of the world, I can eat around it.

They’re pretty and certainly pretty cheap. They do stick in my teeth in little globs and chunks pretty much like Dots.

I don’t see myself buying them again. I liked the orange and lemon, but I can just get Orange Slices if I’m in that sort of a mood. I can see these being used for decorating cupcakes or gingerbread houses, especially since they’re so inexpensive.

(The Chuckles company was one of the last companies to make the Pine Brothers glycerine cough drops I absolutely loved as a kid.)

Name: Chuckles Ju Jubes
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Farley's & Sathers
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree (Harbor City)
Price: $1.00
Size: 9 ounces
Calories per ounce: 83
Categories: Jelly, United States, Farley's & Sathers

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:27 pm     Comments (4)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Candy Blog Improvements

Legoland Chocolate from ChuaoThis spring will mark the 5th anniversary of Candy Blog. Since the website has been largely unchanged since November 2005, I thought maybe it was time to consider giving the joint a bit of a facelift and some improvements.

So, the big question is, what do you want? After all, I write about this stuff partly in service to my readers. (And of course as a selfish excuse to eat more candy than most people should.) I’m not planning on changing the basic mission: review candy and for the most part any content in addition to that might come at the cost of those new reviews. (So if I review 4-5 times a week but everyone wants to see interviews with chocolatiers, then that would cut into the review tallies. I can write a lot in binges, as you may have noticed, but five reviews a week is about as much as I can do well.)

Boyer Peanut Butter PretzelThings I’m thinking about:

1. Create user accounts. They already exist in the forums, but it’d be nice if you could have your own icon show up on your comments and perhaps track your own comments across all the blog posts and within the forums. (Have a look at how Serious Eats does this as an example.) What do you want to see in the user accounts? More room to show your candy fandom? A place to favorite posts? Add your own ratings?

Chocolate Sea Salt Cashews from Marich2. Magazine Style Home Page - where both new reviews are featured as well as some other things like candy photos, candy stores and other candy adventures. (I’m kind of up in the air on this one. I like how organized things are now, but I recognize that it works best for readers who visit regularly, it doesn’t necessarily grab new or only occasional visitors.)

3. Share This functions - so you can quickly grab a bit of a post & link to put on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

4. More helpful organization - maybe create a master database of candies. Right now the search function returns all mentions of a candy, so it’s a little wonky if you want to just find the candy itself.

KitKat Chunky Peanut Butter5. Grand Database (with API) - For years I’ve done the stats box at the bottom of each candy review. Someday, maybe soon, I’d like to export that into a mashable database that will allow display of things like “Candies with low caloric density” or “Highest rated candy made in Germany.”

Right now, since I’m just thinking about these things, the sky is the limit with development. But the other side of the coin is the content. Do you want more reviews of high end candies (because they’re high risk) or more foreign/regional fare? More candy stores, reviews of shopping experiences? Tours of factories? I used to do a “week in review”, is there any interest in that returning? Or are you simply happy with what the blog is, a regular 4-5 candy reviews a week with some occasional other stuff.

So this is your opportunity to respond, request and even vent.  What do you like, what don’t you like and what do you wish there was more of?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:48 am     Behind the ScenesCandyFeatured NewsComments (15)

Wonka Squishy Sploshberries Gummies

Wonka Sploshberries GummiesThe third new product in Wonka’s Edible Garden line of gummies is called Squishy Sploshberries Gummies Candy. As the name implies, they’re berry flavored gummies and they have sploshy centers.

What I found most interesting about them, as the gooey center has been done quite a bit already, is the flavor array. These aren’t ordinary berries. Though there’s no Snozzberry the flavors are: Raspberry, Blueberry, Goji Berry and Cloud Berry.

Like the other new Wonka gummis, these are made in the Czech Republic and boast no artificial flavors or colors.

Sploshberries - Cloudberry, Blueberry & Raspberry

Each piece is about the same diameter as a nickel (about 3/4”). They’re high and domed candies. They’re not greasy to the touch, just soft and matte. They have a translucent amber colored gummi top with a dark red fruity goo center and it all sits on an opaque white base.

The texture is soft and chewy, with a good latexy bounce to it. The molding of each of the pieces is great and for filled gummies, I was pleased to see that none of them had oozed in the bag.

The goo reservoir in the center is rather small, just a little dab. It’s also not liquid, more of a jelly so it’s more moist than the rest of the gummi, but not a flowing syrup.

Raspberry (far right) is vivid and jammy. It’s not quite specific enough to be exclusively a raspberry, sometimes I thought it was more like a blackberry with a little black cherry note to it.

Blueberry (middle) is also lightly tangy. The unique flavors come from the goo center. It’s a little more tannic, more like it has notes of black tea mixed with the more vanilla berry flavors.

Sploshberries - Cloudberry

Cloud Berry - I’ve never eaten a cloud berry so I can’t talk about the authenticity of the flavor. What I can say is that it pretty much tastes like all the other gummis in this assortment. It might have a little note of green apple, but it’s very pleasant and a little more custard-like, probably because of the white kind of marshmallowy base. This was the most prevalent flavor in the bag, so I had quite a few of them.

Sploshberries - Goji BerryGoji Berry - a little more woodsy than the others in the mix. It’s only lightly tart with a vague rosemary or herby note to it, like chewing on fibery goji berries.

I was hoping these would be a little more vibrant, that they’d have a little more pizazz. Wonka candies are usually known for being bold. Candies like Nerds and Runts are very specific. These were kind of tame. I appreciate the risks of making a naturally flavored & colored product and the unusual actual berry flavors instead of made up flavors. On the other side of that coin, all the flavors went together really well so it’s not like I noticed getting a “bad” flavor.

The allergen info on the bag has all the hot targets on it: made on shared equipment with peanuts, nuts, soy, milk, wheat and eggs. Also, it contains gelatin so it’s not vegetarian friendly.

Related Candies

  1. Wonka Puckerooms
  2. Wonka Sluggles
  3. Wonka Kazoozles: Cherry Punch & Pink Lemonade
  4. Trader Joe’s Gummy Tummies
  5. Albanese Gummi Butterflies
  6. Starburst GummiBursts
Name: Wonka Sploshberries
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Wonka (Nestle)
Place Purchased: Target (Harbor City)
Price: $1.59
Size: 5.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: Gummi, Czech Republic, Nestle, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:37 am     Comments (7)

Monday, December 28, 2009

DeMet’s Turtles: Pecan & Cashew

DeMet's TurtlesI know some of you are thinking, “I could have sworn that Candy Blog already reviewed Turtles.” You’re not wrong. I did review Nestle Turtles a few years back.

What’s new is that they’re under new ownership. (Or maybe they’re under their original ownership.) Honestly I’m not sure of the history of De Met’s Turtles. Some sources on the web say that they were invented by De Met’s Rowntree in the UK in 1920. However, I also find notations that there was a candy company in Chicago called DeMet’s Candy, founded by Pierre DeMet.

They were invented by Pierre DeMet, who founded a candy company in his name in 1898, and later sold it. Turtles officially were named in 1922, and although several candy manufacturers make a similar product, a registered trademark of Rowntree DeMet’s, whose parent company is Rowntree of England. Turtles are made in Toronto, Canada, though the company’s office is in Chicago, at 230 W. Monroe, not far from the original DeMet’s confectionery shop, according to Barry Fulford of Rowntree. The candy is sold only in North America. And sales figures for 1986 were the largest in the company’s history, Fulford said.

Source - Chicago Sun Times - Chicago’s Best for Birthday Bash - March 5, 1987

Rowntree was bought by Nestle in 1988 and eventually changed the name to Nestle Turtles. Nestle only recently sold off the DeMet’s line of candies in 2008 along with a few other Nestle branded candies such as STIXX, Flipz (chocolate or yogurt covered pretzels) and Treasures. At first they were manufactured in the same facility in Canada, but recently the production has moved to the United States. This new move and different leadership means that I see Turtles where I didn’t used to.

Mostly I’ve been seeing the three Turtle package, which is considered a single serving, at drug stores. Priced around $1.19 it’s a little more upscale than a simple candy bar but not quite an all out high-end chocolate bar.

DeMet's Turtles

As far as I can tell, they’ve changed little from their previous owners. The packaging keeps them fresh, which is nice, though I’ve found that they’re lacking a little on the pecan side of things. The chocolate is sweet and though not actually chalky, I wouldn’t call it particularly creamy either.

Still, I enjoy them quite a bit. They’re comforting and well balanced. I enjoy caramel and nuts and only wish that the chocolate was better.

Demet's Cashew TurtlesThe other version I was also gifted by my mother in her big shipment of Aldi goodies was a box of the Cashew Turtles.

I saw a pair of these boxes - a set of Pecan and Cashew at CVS over the weekend in the Holiday candy section for $6.99. Each box holds 7 ounces, so it’s not a bad deal when on sale. The box still bears that notation that they use real Nestle milk chocolate (though for me that’s not much of a selling point).

Cashews aren’t that common in mass-marketed candies. Besides the Old Dominion nut brittle I reviewed I can’t think of any other cashew-based candies that can be picked up for less than $5 at a chain store. (Maybe Bridge Mix.) The box looks an awful lot like the pecan version, except for the amber badge that says Cashew on it. (The “Original” looks like this.)

Cashew Turtles

I’m a big cashew fan, especially when combined with chocolate. This version seemed a little saltier. The cashews weren’t large, more like peanuts, but they had a good fresh crunch to them. They were a darker roast than I’m also fond of, but I admit that it went well with the toffee flavored caramel.

These have a little bit more substantial crunch and more chocolate flavor, probably because the cashews themselves don’t offer much. Pecans have more of a woodsy/maple note to them, but cashews are a little bit grassy and peanutty.

Since I had two boxes open at the same time, I found myself grabbing the Cashew more often. It could be the novelty or it could be that I just preferred them. Both are decent and I’m glad that they’re still being made. I still think they’re expensive, but when they’re fresh I do enjoy them. So I’m bumping up my rating from the Nestle-owned version to a 6 out of 10.

Name: Pecan Turtles & Cashew Turtles
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: DeMet's Candy Company
Place Purchased: gift (Aldi/ Youngstown, OH)
Price: unknown
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 146
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Nuts, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:49 am     Comments (6)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas Sweet Friends

I hope all my Candy Blog readers are experiencing a happy holiday season. Candy Holidays, of course, are among the best so I hope you’re getting your fill of the best the season has to offer and the opportunity to share it with those you care about.

Choceur Belgian Chocolate Santa

What sort of wonderful sweets did you get for Christmas this year? (Or did you make or give something particularly wonderful?)

Pictured above is a Choceur Chocolate Santa, which I’d rate about a 7 out of 10. It’s quite milky in the European style but also has a nice malty note. He’s a full 8 inches tall and 7.05 ounces. The dark and white chocolate accents and the molding design was wonderfully detailed.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:44 am     CandyReviewChristmasChocolate7-Worth ItGermanyFeatured NewsComments (11)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Choceur Nougat Bites & Marzipan Bites

Choceur Marzipan BitesI still have a few more candies and holiday items from Aldi, but of note are these Bites from Aldi’s Choceur line.

Marzipan Bites are elegantly simple little marzipan blocks covered in dark chocolate. The ingredients are simple and encouraging: Sugar, almonds, chocolate liquor, water, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and invertase. So it looks like it may be a fun candy for vegans. (The package does say that it’s processed on equipment with other tree nuts, milk and wheat though, so might not be good for those with milk allergies or gluten issues.)

The long box has a gold plastic tray inside with two compartments holding five pieces each.

Choceur Marzipan Bites

The gold and red foil wrapper is simple but elegant and thankfully has a clear label that says what’s inside. (I can see buying several of these Choceur items and then taking them out of the package and putting them in a bowl or on a serving plate with cookies.)

L?becker Edel Marzipan means marzipan from L?beck, a city in Northern Germany. The style there has some strict requirements such as the sugar content should not exceed 30% (making the product at least 70% almonds). L?beck is best known for the Niederegger confectionery (whose marzipan is among my favorites).

The pieces are a stylish two bites. They’re long and narrow - about 1.75 inches long, .75 inches wide and .5 inches high. The dark chocolate enrobing is thin but shiny and well tempered. The scent of dark chocolate is most forward upon opening the wrapper. When I bit into it, that’s when the almond flavors emerged, a bit like almond extract. Happily they dissipated quickly and the pure almond paste was left behind.

I liked the texture of it quite a bit, it’s not the smooth and doughy paste the shapes are usually made from, instead it’s a bit grainier than that. It’s moist and has a good authentic nutty almond flavor that includes those sort of toasted notes that are often drowned out by flavorings. It was very fresh and clean tasting and for someone who doesn’t usually enjoy marzipan, especially when it’s not flavored by things like orange, ginger, coffee or lemon this was quite a revelation.

Each piece is about 60 calories and being mostly almonds, it’s not as bad a treat as many others that you can indulge in over the winter holidays and is quite filling. (There are 4 grams of protein per serving of three pieces.)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Choceur Nougat BitesThe Choceur Nougat Bites were similarly packaged.

In this case the tray holds to columns of the little bricks of praline chocolate bites, 14 in all.

I had these all wrong, all wrong. I thought from the description and the kind of vague illustration that they were a little hazelnut praline (toasted nut paste with caramelized sugar) covered in milk chocolate. When I first opened them I thought, these are really light in color. I thought there’s no way they can be chocolatey.

And it’s true. They aren’t chocolate, it’s a single block of just the nougat. The ingredients go like this: Hazelnut paste, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, nonfat milk powder, chocolate liquor, malt extract and soy lecithin. See, there’s barely any chocolate in there at all.

Choceur Nougat Bites

Then I realized I was thinking these were going to be gianduia, in the sense that they’d be a chocolate and hazelnut block. Instead they’re a hazelnut and milk block. Quite different. Once I adjusted my thinking, once I adjusted my expectations I realized that these are ingenious little cubes.

They’re only 1 inch long and .75 inches square. The color is like a milky coffee. They smell extremely sweet, a little like toasted hazelnuts and milk. It’s quite soft and melts easily (thank goodness we’re at the time of year when the unheated parts of my house hover around 60 degrees).

At first on the tongue it’s milky and melts into a cool and slick puddle. Then the hazelnut flavors emerge. It’s not as intensely hazelnut as many other gianduia candies that I prefer. Instead this is just a much better version of Ice Cubes, using the native hazelnut oils and cocoa butter for the rich fats instead of other tropical oils.

I didn’t find them terribly substantial in the end and found myself preferring the marzipan (which is kind of a shock after all of these years of proclaiming I don’t like marzipan). But the demonstration of a confection with so much cocoa butter that’s not specifically “white chocolate” is charming and worthy. I’d probably prefer it if it accompanied something a bit stronger, maybe had a dark chocolate coating or if I just at it with some salty shortbread or strong coffee.

The calorie count on these is much higher due to the fat. Each is only 55 calories, but they’re smaller than the Marzipan bites so they clock in at 178 calories per ounce.

Rating: 6 out of 10

These are two decent finds from Choceur that would be fun additions to a holiday candy bowl.

Related Candies

  1. Aldi Chocolate Swiss Assorted Chocolate Squares
  2. Hachez Edel Vollmilch Nuss (Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts)
  3. Moser Roth Chocolate
  4. Snickers Peanut Butter Santas
  5. Choceur Luxury Mini Chocolate Bars
  6. Caffarel Gianduias
  7. Niederegger Capuccino Marzipan
Name: Marzipan Bites & Nougat Bites
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Choceur (Aldi)
Place Purchased: Aldi (Youngstown, OH)
Price: $2.49
Size: 4.33 ounces
Calories per ounce: 134 & 178
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Germany, Aldi, Christmas, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:10 am     Comments (4)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Teuscher

Teuscher Beverly HillsBeverly Hills is a different world from the funky and uneven aesthetics of Silver Lake where I live, even though they are only about twenty minutes apart by car. While Silver Lake has a few chocolatiers and bakeries that carry fine confections, Beverly Hills has been at it far longer and has international muscle behind many of its biggest names.

For quite a few years folks have been telling me to try Teuscher. People rave, far and wide, about their Champagne Truffles. I even went into the Teuscher shop in Rockefeller Plaza in New York a few years ago but the shop was packed with people and the ambiance was a little too fussy, confining and precious for my tastes.

As the years went by the fact that I hadn’t tried their chocolates was becoming a glaring omission in my chocolate experiences. So when I was contacted by a representative of the Beverly Hills outpost of the Swiss-based Teuscher, I thought the time was ripe. I arranged to visit their petite shop and cafe in Beverly Hills located on the corner of Brighton Way and Camden, a scant block off of Rodeo Drive.

Teuscher Champagne Truffles

Teuscher is a Swiss chocolatiers but they have fourteen North American locations in addition to their shops in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. All chocolates are made in their Zurich facility and express shipped regularly (usually once or twice a week) to the shops. Their array of chocolates is rather standardized, regardless of the location. They make a variety of truffles, nut-based confections like marzipan and gianduja. They also have classics like candied fruits (dipped in chocolate), nut clusters and novelty molded chocolates (usually seasonal selections).

I was introduced to Avivia Covitz, the owner of the Beverly Hills shop. She charmed me with her tales of pairings of chocolates, eating two at a time to increase the vast variety that already existed in single pieces to create even more unique confectionery experiences. (Kind of like me and my mash ups ... though I’m sure she’s classier and doesn’t actually smash them together.) She guided me through the offerings and I chose about 15 pieces (from the dozens available) as an introduction to the fine chocolates.

Teuscher Dark Chocolate Champagne Truffle

Since their Champagne Truffle is so well known, I picked up three - two in milk chocolate and one in dark chocolate. They look more like rum balls that truffles to me, especially the milk chocolate ones which are very light brown with a white confectioner’s sugar dusting. They’re not round, more narrow and tall. It’s a sweet flavor right away as well, but my concerns about it being too sweet were quickly dispelled. The flavor isn’t quite champagne but more of a deep yeasty and white wine grape note. There’s no fizz or bubble, but a crisp and dry finish.

The dark, in my opinion, was even richer and a little more yeasty. They’re dusted in cocoa, so far less sweet right when it’s placed on the tongue. The texture is smooth, with a little pop of flavor at the center where the champagne cream center is.

I also tried their newer truffle, the Vodka Truffle. This one was wrapped in silver foil and after being unsheathed the molded sphere looked rather like a Lindt Lindor truffle though the center was vastly different. The dark chocolate had berry notes and a little astringency. The truffle center was quite gooey (Aviva cautioned me that it was to be popped in the mouth whole, no biting in half) and had a strong alcoholic bite along with a smooth dark chocolate liquor flavor.

Teuscher Nougat MontilmarI’m a huge European nougat fan, so seeing this piece was encouraging. Also seeing the wide use of nuts such as pistachios, walnuts (even though I can’t eat them), hazelnuts, almonds and of course hazelnuts made me happy.

The Montelimar nougat is dipped in chocolate on all sides except for the top. (which is a little dry). It’s a little grainy but still soft and chewy. The nuts (pistachios and almonds) are fresh and the honey notes are definitely a plus. The nougat still has a wafer on it, which kind of confusing because it doesn’t seem to be necessary and creates a kind of cereal flavor to the chew.

One of the big things I noticed in the Teuscher line is the liberal use of honey, which I think is far under-utilized in chocolates.

Teuscher Honey Caramel

The Honey Caramel covered in dark chocolate was delightful. I love honey, I love chocolate and I love caramel. That doesn’t always mean a good combination will result, but in this case it does. The caramel has a dark flavor, a malty note and the beeswaxy and floral vibe of honey. There are also little bits of almond in there, which bring the whole thing together with a bit of texture.

Teuscher MarzipanMarzipan

There’s a large array of marzipan at Teuscher, which I found fascinating. The little logs like this are simply adorable and promised to have a large proportion of chocolate to the almond paste filling. (I believe it also came in pistachio.)

Sweet with a powerful almond extract flavor. The dark chocolate is creamy and offsets the sweetness well. The texture of the marzipan is dry but holds together without being sticky.

I also tried a Zebra Gianduja which is a striped combination of milk, white and dark hazelnut paste neatly dipped in dark chocolate similar to the Montelimar. The hazelnut notes were lost in the sweetness and the texture was just a little dry. Still, the nut notes were very fresh.

Teuscher Crunchy Chocolates

I was fond of the idea of these. They’re simply called Crunchy Chocolates and they come in milk and dark chocolate. They’re a homey dab of chocolate studded with little crunchy bits of honey and nuts. It’s like comfort candy. They’re basically everything I’ve always wanted a Toblerone to be. The chocolate is smooth and creamy with its own flavors. The honey bits give an added flavor punch and almost a salty note. The almonds give crunch and their own buttery note. I liked their thin shape, which made it easy to bite but thick enough to have lots of inclusions.

Teuscher Orange PeelI always like to try the candy kitchen classics when I go to a new chocolate shop. I feel like I can learn a lot about the attention to detail when a chocolatier does something as simple as candying some orange peel or ginger. There are lots of ways to do it well, so it really just gives me a sense of where their sensibilities are.

Teuscher’s sensibilities in the candied fruit rind arena are right in line with mine. The Candied Orange Peel is dipped in dark chocolate. Moist and almost jelly-like, there’s no hint of sugary grain. It’s rather sweet but all of the zesty notes of the orange are preserved and just a light hint of the bitter orange oil. It goes well with the dark chocolate couveture.

Teuscher Candied Ginger

The Chocolate Dipped Candied Ginger was a similar glace style. Tiny little ropes of roots, simmered in sugar until tender, then dipped in chocolate. These had a little extra flair with the white chocolate racing strip around the bottom. It was just a little accent that didn’t detract at all from the dark chocolate and the earthy notes of the ginger, just a little tip of milk flavors into it.

Teuscher NoirBelle Epoque was the only other truffle I picked up, again it was an alcohol inspired and infused one. This is a dark chocolate ganache with Gran Marnier. I loved the look of it and have found that I prefer enrobed or dipped truffles to molded ones.

There is a strong whiff of alcohol and orange zest. Little notes of tobacco and oak along with chocolate pudding. It’s definitely one of my favorites and would probably win out on my list of things to eat from there on a regular basis because it was just less sweet than the Champagne. (And given the choice, I’d probably opt for an aperitif of Gran Marnier over a flute of champagne.)

After completing my selection of the complementary fine chocolates, I also decided to also buy a few other items to get a sense of the rest of the Teuscher line of offerings. One of the charming items that vary from season to season are the molded chocolates. When I was in the shop before Thanksgiving, they had turkeys.

Teuscher Dark Chocolate Bees

I was drawn to the Chocolate Bees. (I have no idea if they have a formal name, as there’s nothing on the package.) They came in a double layer mounded on a four inch by six inch gold foil tray. That was wrapped in clear cellophane and decorated with a narrow, yellow gossamer ribbon.

The milk and dark chocolate bees have a wingspan of two inches. But they’re not just milk and dark chocolate novelties. They’re dotted with honey crystals and almond bits. The texture wasn’t quite as dense and flavorful as the Crunchy chocolate pieces mentioned above. Instead these were a bit more like a Toblerone piece. Not quite as vibrant or intensely textured. Still very pretty and fun.

Teuscher Gianduia

I also picked out a few straight Gianduja (they pronounce it John-Do-Ya) hearts. They’re beefy, over two inches wide and almost an inch high. One was milk chocolate (blue) and the other dark (orange).

The flavor was more milky and sweet chocolate in the milk chocolate than hazelnuts. This was my feeling about all the gianduja items from Teuscher. I’m assuming this is just the Swiss style, though I also noticed it with the Belgian brand Leonidas as well. Since I prefer more hazelnut and darker chocolate flavors, even then dark version here didn’t quite satisfy me and I didn’t end up finishing them. (Part of it is that I was so enamored of the Pralus Creme de Noisette that it’s going to become one of my standards.)

Teuscher Dark Chocolate Covered Orange Marzipan

Orange Marzipan covered in Dark Chocolate

The final item I picked up, also foil-wrapped like the above hazelnut hearts, was an orange marzipan piece. This was more like a decadent candy bar. The marzipan was moist, a little sticky but with a great citrus zest note instead of amaretto. The almond texture and flavor still came through, but without the bitter almond flavoring that so often pervades European marzipan. This is definitely one of the highlight pieces for me. I liked that it wasn’t fussy and if I were wandering around Beverly Hills and wanted something to go with my coffee (they do have a highly regarded coffee bar), this is a good impulse item for me.

Teuscher front DoorMy hesitations with the products are really minor. I’m not that keen on the packaging or the design of the shop. The confections are well labeled in the chocolates case, which is great for people like me who must avoid a particular item like walnuts, but the rest of the items were not. The foil wrapped items were just color coded and once you left the shop, well, you’d better have a good memory. The little trays of molded items are see through, so you can, well, see them but no ingredients or even product names. My feelings are that the look and feel of the place is dated, but if you’ve been shopping there for a dozen years, you might feel like they’re dependable and consistent ... so I can’t really fault them for that.

The milk chocolate and hazelnut items were on the sweet side for my preferences, but the dark truffles, especially the Belle Epoque are right up my alley. I will definitely plan on trying more of the flavored marzipans and the caramels since I was so fond of the Honey Caramel.

The prices are on the high side at over $70 a pound (an 8 ounce box of 16 Champagne Truffles is $37.50) and the website doesn’t allow you to build a custom box. However, in the store you’re free to get exactly what you want. I think the Champagne Truffles are worth the diversion if you’re in Beverly Hills (or any other neighborhood that has a shop) but I don’t think I’d special order them on the internet unless I was certain they were going to be spectacular and just what I wanted.

My trick when visiting Beverly Hills is to park in the valet parking garage on Dayton Way just off Rodeo Drive. It’s free for the first two hours during the day. Teuscher looks like a great spot to hang out sipping coffee at the sidewalk tables and sampling a little box of chocolates while people-watching.

teuscher chocolates Beverly Hills
9548 Brighton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(888)443-8992
open 7 days (see website for current hours)

Related Candies

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  2. Gridskipping - Los Angeles Chocolatiers
  3. Edelweiss Chocolates
  4. K Chocolatier
  5. Mel & Rose Wine & Spirits
  6. Caffarel Gianduia 1865

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:58 am     CandyChocolatierLos AngelesReviewAlcoholCaramelChocolateGingerNuts7-Worth It8-TastySwitzerlandShoppingComments (11)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trader Joe’s Belgian Chocolate Fancies

Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate FanciesTrader Joe’s has a bountiful selection of candies for the holidays, great for hostess gifts and of course serving in your own home. One of 2009’s new items are the Belgian Chocolate Fancies.

The box sports a modular and moderne design created by someone who liked to show off their typesetting skills. They’re:
Decadent & Stylish Chocolates
with
Rich Chocolate Fruit Infused Ganache
No Artificial Flavors. No Preservatives

On the back it goes on in all caps:
Our Belgian Chocolate Fancies are sophisticated hemispheres of flavor! Five delicious natural fruit flavors - raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, cherry and orange., make up a sweet selection. These Belgian beauties are a wonderful gift or a perfect treat to serve at parties and gatherings!

I had a headache from all the shouting and exclamations.

Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate Fancies

The chocolates are quite pretty to look at, like a selection of gaudy bakelite coat buttons. The five flavors are naturally colored domes with a similar construction. Inside is a ganache with a little dollop of fruit jelly. The top is a shell of chocolate or white chocolate and the base is sealed up with more chocolate of some sort.

They’re one inch high and about one inch and a quarter in diameter. For the most part they’re one bite, but of course I did a lot of biting in half and peeking so perhaps I wasn’t eating them the way those fancy Belgians intended.

Cranberry (white chocolate) - a white chocolate shell with red blush filled with a milk chocolate ganache and a cranberry jelly all sitting on a white chocolate base.

You know what I think about when someone says cranberry jelly? I think tart. I think cheek drawing tartness. What I got here was something a little less startling. The milk chocolate ganache was a rather dairy, which is not a flavor I think goes particularly well with cranberry, I think a dark chocolate would join with the acidity and berry notes better. It was sweet and set off well by the slightly tart cranberry jelly, but the white chocolate shell & base just made to far too sweet in the end.

Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate FanciesPomegranate (white chocolate) - a white chocolate shell with an orange cast filled with a white chocolate ganache and a pomegranate jelly all sitting on a dark chocolate base.

This was another bland floral jelly with no real note that came through the white chocolate, it was all overshadowed by the dark chocolate base. Not that it was a bad thing, but a pom white ganache truffle sounded pretty good.

Cherry (milk chocolate) - a milk chocolate shell with brownish red hue filled with a white chocolate ganache and a cherry jelly sitting on a milk chocolate base.

The scent on these is an overwhelming woodsy-cherry with some medicinal maraschino thing. It’s quite distracting and swamps the box every time I open it. The jelly itself is rather mild and sweet with an authentic flavor of cherry. The sweet milk chocolate has a little dairy going on, a little creamy party that’s actually rather good. So though I didn’t like the bad influence the cherry had on the box, they were one of the better cherry chocolates I’ve had in a long time.

Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate FanciesOrange (dark chocolate) - a dark chocolate shell with an orange blush filled with a white chocolate ganache and an orange marmalade all sitting on a dark chocolate base.

It seemed like the orange ones got a more liberal heaping of the jelly, so the flavor was more intense right away. The jelly is tangy and zesty, smooth and not a trace of grain. I would buy a whole box of these.

Raspberry (white chocolate) - a white chocolate shell with red/brown stripes filled with a white chocolate ganache and a raspberry jelly all sitting on a dark chocolate base.

The ganache is soft, creamy and sweet, a little fluffy and generally unflavored. The raspberry jelly does nothing, not even a tangy bite or a floral note. The dark chocolate base actually does a lot of heavy lifting here with a bittersweet overtone in an otherwise “cherry infused” piece.

So my ultimate reaction to these was that I was torn. They’re good quality, I appreciate that they’re beautiful and have some uncommon flavors. The ingredients may be all natural (including the colorings) but there’s also canola and palm oil in there (good quality ganache is made with butterfat). In the end each piece wasn’t distinctive enough and the colors weren’t well defined so I couldn’t even tell what I was eating. They just didn’t satisfy any craving within me for either chocolate or creamy.

Belgian Chocolate Fancies are marked gluten free and say that they’re processed on equipment with tree nuts & eggs (and of course contain dairy and soy). So it may be a lovely hostess gift for a chocolate-loving peanut-allergic pal.

Related Candies

  1. Nestle Cranberry Raisinets
  2. Kohler Chocolates Garden Ganache & Toffee Mountains
  3. Trader Joe’s French Truffles
  4. Trader Joe’s The Art of Chocolate
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  6. Green and Black’s White Chocolate
Name: Belgian Chocolate Fancies
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe's
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Third & LaBrea)
Price: $4.99
Size: 7.05 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Chocolate, Jelly, White Chocolate, Belgium, Trader Joe's, All Natural, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:38 am     Comments (4)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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ON DECK

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• Patric Chocolate

• Amano Chocolates

• Candy Rant: Stimulants are not Energy

• Candy Encyclopedia: The Difference Between Gummi and Jelly

• Candy Rant: If your Licorice isn’t black, it isn’t Licorice

 

 

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